Editor's Desk

By Michael Hughes

Don't stand around at the AI starting gate

We've come a long way from the 1960s, when the only alternative reality was psychedelic.

Be it augmented, virtual or mixed, the new realities are ushering in a new era of operations in the sectors industrial and systems engineers work in – manufacturing, product design, workforce management and training, healthcare, retail shopping, construction and cosmetics – and some, like education, that have not been the traditional province of ISEs. And many other things we haven't imagined will continue coming down the pike, requiring change.

This time of rapid alteration is perfect for Mohsen Attaran's and Rebeca Morfin-Manibo's cover story. Because, as the headline says, "Your future reality will be digital." The authors detail the history of alternative realities, current and upcoming applications, their potential for growth and possible operational pitfalls.

It's all part of our campaign to reflect that rapidly evolving technology is changing everything. It started with May's cover story on how applying blockchain to contracts could revolutionize businesses ranging from manufactured goods to online music ("Get smart with your contracts"), continuing with June's cover story on what artificial intelligence is bringing to society and business ("Taking advantage of the AI revolution"). Next month, as most major media spins stories about how automation and robotics will take all our jobs, we look at how applying the right ISE tools, with some hints from Toyota, will help organizations figure out where automation works and where it doesn't – keeping humans and technology complementing each other for quite some time.

Then, in September, our cover story will be a primer on how ISEs can use data science to improve manufacturing.

We won't be neglecting the profession's traditional domains, as you can see from the rest of this issue. Yes, we do cover flying taxis and a robotic insect drone in The Front Line as well as blockchain applied to supply chain management, but we're also dropping knowledge about ergonomics and facility planning and theory of constraints in healthcare.

So turn the pages, and stay tuned the next few months for how ISE + technology = a whole new world.

Michael Hughes is managing editor of IISE. Reach him at mhughes@iise.org or (770) 349-1110.